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what is a cover bet

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A cover bet is a type of wager where you can get your losing stake refunded, if your selection fails to win, but finishes within a certain number of places and/or behind the favourite. It can also refer to a bet placed, to cover another bet that you have placed. We examine the question of what is a cover bet, alongside the concept of full cover bets with particular reference to horse racing.

What is a Cover Bet in Horse Racing?

The initial cover bet meaning, was a wager placed to cover the stake of another bet that you had put on previously in case it didn’t win. So say you fancied the favourite in a horse race and it was priced at 2/1. The only other horse that you think has a chance of winning the race is priced at 8/1.

As well as your bet on the 2/1 favourite, you could put a smaller cover bet on the 8/1 runner, just in case that horse beat the favourite. The introduction of betting exchanges, allowed punters to cover bets more easily. These act differently to regular fixed odds bookmakers.

If you backed a horse with the bookies, you could then place a lay bet on the same selection on the exchanges,  covering part or all of your stake. Bookmakers have expanded the concept of cover betting today, with their own special offers that can see your stake refunded under various circumstances. We’re going to take a look at how these sort of cover bets work.

How Does Cover Betting Work?

what is a cover bet

If you’re wondering what is a cover bet and how they work, we’re going to reveal everything that you need to know. First of all, this type of bet is not available through betting sites across the board on all horse races. Bookies tend to make this deal available for certain meetings or selected events, which are often the most competitive races and most difficult to predict.

That’s to be expected. The bookies are making a tough market, just a little bit easier for their punters. Very often a cover bet offer, will involve you receiving your stake back (generally up to a certain stated limit, such as £20), if your horse finishes second to the SP favourite.

It’s a useful type of offer, as every now and again it will reduce your loss. Every little advantage counts in betting and with horse racing betting, it is next to impossible to always pick a winner. Cover betting deals tend to be available for existing customers. So you will be able to take advantage of these offers throughout the year.

Key Types of Cover Bet Explained

There are some different types of cover bet available and in this section we’re going to take you through some of the varieties that you are likely to encounter.

What is a Cover Bet with 2 Places?

We’ll start by explaining what does cover bet 2 places mean to you. This is the most common cover bet offer. If your horse finishes second, you’ll get your stake refunded. Sometimes the cover bet 2 places deal, stipulates that your selection must finish second to the SP favourite, or a particular named horse.

What Does Cover Bet 3 Places Mean?

Three is the magic number compared with two, so what is a cover bet 3 places? With this type of deal, your selection could finish either second or third for you to get your stake returned, behind a selected horse, the SP favourite, or sometimes even regardless of the winner. Combined with an each way bet, this deal really makes sense. You could back a horse EW and could potentially win the place part of this bet and then get your stake back, also.

What is a Cover Bet with 4 Places?

Finally, we’ll address what does cover bet 4 places mean. You might be able to guess that it means that your horse can finish second, third or fourth, perhaps to the favourite or a selected runner and you will get your stake back. Again, this type of betting offer gives you the opportunity to combine with an each way bet, to really maximise your cover. It’s quite rare to see a cover bet 4 places offer, but when it is available it’s an opportunity that has to be taken.

What is Full Cover Betting?

Cover betting and full cover betting can often be confused, though they are really very different. A full cover bet refers to a type of combination system bet, that as the name suggests, covers every available permutation. With a full cover bet, no matter how many selections you choose, every permutation is covered, from singles to doubles and right up to a full accumulator.

How Does a Full Cover Bet Work?

As we have said, a full cover bet takes every selection and creates bets for every possible permutation. So if you had four selections in a full cover bet, there would be 15 bets in all. Four singles + six doubles, + four trebles + one accumulator.

As a result, these type of combination bets can be quite expensive, as you are not just staking on one wages, but multiple ones. The upside is that you don’t need all of your selections to win, in order to see a return. We’ve all had just one leg let us down on a football accumulator and it’s incredibly frustrating o see no return, when your powers of prediction have otherwise been extremely accurate.

If only one selection on your full cover bet comes in, you’ll at least get some money back, even if it results in an overall loss. Get two or three selections right and you might start to see some profit.

Pros & Cons of Full Cover Betting

A full cover bet has a lot of plusses, but also some drawbacks. It’s important to consider these factors, before placing such a wager. We think that the pros easily outweigh the cons when it comes to full cover bets, but for the sake of fairness, here are both sides of the coin.

Pros
  • You can get a return without all legs winning
  • Huge returns if all legs do land
  • Can place each way full cover bets
  • Often better returns than acca insurance
Cons
  • Can get expensive total outlay
  • Have to be careful to select picks with the right odds
  • Greater investment than straight acca

Key Types of Full Cover Bet Explained

There are different types of full cover bets available to punters. The amount of selections, impacts the number of wagers involved, with different names to identify them. Here are the main types of full cover bets that you will come across.

  • Patent bet – 3 selections = 7 bets. 3 Singles, 3 Doubles and a Treble.
  • Lucky 15 – 4 selections = 15 bets. 4 Singles, 6 Doubles, 4 Trebles and a Fourfold Accumulator.
  • Lucky 31 – 5 selections = 31 bets. 5 Singles, 10 Doubles, 10 Trebles, 5 Fourfold Accumulators.
  • Lucky 63 – 6 selections = 63 bets. 6 Singles, 15 Doubles, 20 Trebles, 15 Fourfold Accumulators, 6 Fivefold Accumulators and a Sixfold Accumulator.

When is it Best to Use Cover & Full Cover Betting

There are some occasions when it makes sense to use cover bets or a full cover bet. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense at all. In this section, we’re going to highlight some of the instances when it’s a good idea to place these these bet types.

Use Cover Bets to Minimise Risk

If a bookie offers the chance of a cover bet and there’s a runner in the race that you fancy, then you have to make the most of the opportunity. Your risk is severely minimised, knowing that your selection could finish second, third, or even fourth and you will get your stake returned.

We’d recommend that you limit your stake to the maximum amount that the bookie will refund. Make sure that you read the terms and conditions thoroughly, so that you know exactly how much to bet. If the odds of your selection are big enough in conjunction with the place terms, you may also be able to get your stake back from finishing in the top 2-4 places. In such an instance, placing an each way bet alongside the cover bet offer, really reduces your chances of losing money.

An Alternative To Acca Insurance

A common betting offer available to existing customers through bookmakers is Acca Insurance. If only one of your selections lets you down in your acca betting, then you will get your stake back, up to a certain stated amount. It’s a really useful deal for fans of accumulator bets, that can save you a lot of money in the long-term.

Yet sometimes, a full cover bet makes more sense. Acca Insurance bets end the frustration of only one of your selections letting you down, but what if you get three of your five picks right, or four out of six? You’ll get nothing at all, despite having been pretty successful with your predictions. With a full cover bet, you would at least see some return and if the odds/staking were right, you could even turn a profit, with this sort of level of accuracy.

Do All Bookmakers Offer Cover & Full Cover Bets?

Any bookmaker that is serious about horse racing, will provide cover bets, either as a permanent promotion, or on an occasional basis. Full cover bets are even more common at bookies, as this is a type of bet that is not just popular amongst horse racing fans, but also punters that like to place combination bets on sports such as football or tennis.

FAQs

How to place a cover bet?

Which sports do cover bets apply to most?

Do all horse racing events offer cover betting as an option?

What is the difference between a cover bet and a full cover bet?

Do full cover bets include singles?

Are Trixies, Yankees, Canadians, Heinz, etc actually full cover bets?

Dan Fitch
Dan Fitch
Dan Fitch

A writer and editor for some of the top names in the gambling industry for nearly 20 years, Dan also works as a freelance sports journalist for publications and websites such as ESPN, FourFourTwo and LiveScore.